Max and Moritz
composer Gisle Kverndokk
librettist Øystein Wiik
World premiere commissioned by the New York Opera Society
National Gallery of arts (Washington, DC)
Lower Manhattan Arts Academy (New York, NY)
McCullum Theatre (Palm Desert, CA)
Long before Tom Sawyer, Dennis the Menace, or Calvin and Hobbes, there was Max and Moritz. One of Germany's most beloved children's books, written by Wilhelm Busch and published in 1865, this "opera in seven pranks" updates the mischiefs of two naughty boys and the havoc that follows their wake to a world of multi-media overstimulation.
To serve both the original illustrations, and the reinterpretation, the costumes had the feel of two-dimensional sketches drawn onto a white page. The medieval silhouettes of the original cartoon are simply appliquéed onto today's baggy sweats and pants. The Helicopter Mom features a working propeller atop a chignon worthy of your most particular and most desperate housewife. Mrs Cackle's apron has an feather bustle within an apron, and, of course, rollers in her bright orange hair.
And Trouble - "Jiminy Cricket's evil brother" - channels the ambiguities of Munch's Scream.
There are also hens-puppets (Henny and Henrietta) and a giant tarantula among other colorful characters. And by colorful, I mean black and white.
In collaboration with the Consulate General of New York, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the McCallum Theatre